Table of Content:
Best scalp treatment for dandruff | How to get a prescription? | Types of prescription dandruff shampoos | Severe dandruff treatment | How to use your shampoo? | What is dandruff? | Causes | Conditions similar to dandruff
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What is the best scalp treatment for dandruff?
Dr. Fernandez says that the most effective dandruff treatment depends on what is causing it. Dandruff caused by dry skin will have a very different treatment than the dandruff caused by yeast.
Similar to acne, the most effective treatment for dandruff often involves following a care routine and applying products that contain various ingredients such as piroctone olamine, ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, or sulfur to address the problem from different angles.
When you look for an over-the-counter or prescription-strength treatment shampoo you should make sure that it contains at least one of these ingredients.
How to get a prescription dandruff shampoo?
To get a prescription dandruff shampoo you can have a photo consultation with a virtual dermatologist which is $59. This means you will take some photos of your scalp and answer a few questions online. You will get an answer from a dermatologist in 1-2 working days together with a prescription.
Request a prescription
Prescription dandruff shampoos
Ketoconazole is an antifungal agent that can be used to treat moderate to severe dandruff caused by yeast overgrowth. It is available in both prescription and over-the-counter shampoos.
Ketoconazole shampoo brands
Pyrithione zinc shampoo
Pyrithione zinc is a popular anti-dandruff ingredient that helps control the growth of Malassezia, a yeast-like fungus often associated with dandruff. It is found in many dandruff shampoos and is effective for various types of dandruff. Depending on the product’s strength, you can buy it with a prescription or over the counter.
Zinc pyrithione shampoo brands
DermaZinc, Beta Med, DHS Zinc, Skincure
Fluocinolone shampoos contain a corticosteroid to help control itching, flaking and irritation. Studies show that shampoos with fluocinolone acetonide can improve the treatment of seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp from 75 to 99% of all cases. Fluocinolone shampoos are only sold with a doctor’s prescription.
Fluocinolone shampoo brands
FS Shampoo, Capex shampoo, Derma-Smoothe
Selenium sulfide shampoo
Selenium sulfide helps slow down the growth of skin cells and reduces the amount of yeast on the scalp. It can be effective for dandruff as well as conditions like seborrheic dermatitis. Depending on the product’s strength, you can buy it over the counter or with a prescription..
Selenium sulfide shampoo brands
Dandrex, Selenos, Selseb
Salicylic acid shampoo
Salicylic acid helps to exfoliate the scalp and remove dead skin cells, which can be particularly effective for dandruff caused by dry skin. You can also buy salicylic acid shampoo over the counter or with a prescription for 6% concentration.
Salicylic acid shampoo brands
Keralyt 6%, Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo and Baker P&S
Sulfur has both antifungal and keratolytic (skin-softening) properties, which can be beneficial for addressing certain types of dandruff, especially when it is associated with conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or scalp psoriasis. You can buy sulfur shampoo 2% with a prescription, but you can find less potent versions over the counter.
Sulfur shampoo brands
Sebex shampoo, Sulfur 8 shampoo, Jason dandruff relief
What is the best treatment for severe dandruff?
Dr. Fernadez says that for individuals with severe dandruff your dermatologist may prescribe an oral treatment consisting of itraconazole or fluconazole tablets.
How to use your prescription dandruff shampoo?
According to Dr. Fernandez, the frequency of using a prescription dandruff shampoo should be determined by your dermatologist since the recommended usage may vary based on the specific prescription, the severity of your condition, and how your scalp responds to the treatment.
However, as a general rule, prescription dandruff shampoos are often used as follows:
- Depending on the prescription and strength, your healthcare provider may recommend using the shampoo quite frequently in the beginning and then less often as your symptoms improve.
- Some prescriptions may be for short-term use to address acute flare-ups, while others may be for longer-term management of chronic conditions.
- Wet your hair, apply the shampoo, and leave it on for a specific amount of time before rinsing.
- Be sure to monitor your scalp and the progress of your condition. If you experience any side effects or if the treatment is not working as expected, contact your healthcare provider.
- Once your symptoms are under control, your healthcare provider may recommend a maintenance regimen to prevent relapses. This could involve using the prescription shampoo less frequently or transitioning to an over-the-counter product.
Finding dandruff treatment near you
According to Dr. Fernandez, in order to treat dandruff it may not be necessary to see a dermatologist in person, in most cases a virtual consultation with an online dermatologist will suffice.
However, if you want to find a dermatologist near you for an in-person consultation, you can take a look at the list of dermatologists we have compiled for many cities in the U.S.
What is dandruff?
According to Dr. Carolina Fernandez, board-certified dermatologist, dandruff is a common scalp disorder that presents as white or yellowish flakes. These flakes lead to excessive, chronic, and non-inflammatory scaling of the scalp, characterized by the shedding of cornified cells in the form of scales. They often detach from the scalp and fall onto the shoulders, which may be visible on clothing. Dandruff is neither contagious nor serious, but it can be bothersome and affect people’s self-esteem.
Types of dandruff
Greasy dandruff occurs when yellowish scales, which tend to be more adherent, form on the scalp.
Dry dandruff occurs when dry, white, and loose flakes form on the scalp and fall off your head and hair. Other symptoms include itching, redness, and either oily or dry scalp.
What causes dandruff?
Dandruff can occur when the scalp’s cell renewal process is shortened, leading to premature shedding of the scalp’s corneocytes. This process may be triggered by Malassezia, a type of yeast-like fungus that naturally resides on the scalp. An overgrowth of Malassezia can irritate the scalp and trigger excessive shedding of skin cells, leading to dandruff. 7
It is important to note that in some patients, the quantity of this microorganism increases, thriving on the natural lipids or oils produced by the scalp. While this microorganism irritates the scalp, causing micro-inflammations and itching, it is not contagious, as it is a natural part of the scalp’s cutaneous microbiota.
Dandruff can be triggered by various factors such as:
- Genetic predisposition
- Climatic conditions
- Physical or emotional stress
- Hormonal changes
- Lifestyle factors (such as diet)
- Dry skin
- Sensitivity to some hair products
- Overgrowth of yeast
Can you get dandruff in other parts of the body besides the scalp?
Yes, you can get dry, flaky, yellowish scales on different parts of the skin including the face, beard, eyebrows and lashes. This is likely one of the other skin conditions mentioned above: seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, contact dermatitis, or psoriasis among others.
Scalp conditions that resemble dandruff
Seborrheic dermatitis vs dandruff
Seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff are two scalp-related conditions that share similarities but also have distinctive differences. Dandruff is characterized by the presence of flakes on the scalp, whereas seborrheic dermatitis involves a broader picture that may include redness, scaling, and affect other areas of the skin.
While dandruff is often treatable with over-the-counter dandruff shampoos, seborrheic dermatitis may require prescription treatment by a healthcare professional. Both conditions may have genetic components, but seborrheic dermatitis is generally associated with a broader inflammatory response of the skin.
Scalp psoriasis vs dandruff
Psoriasis is an inflammatory, systemic, chronic, and recurrent disease associated with various conditions. It can affect various parts of the body, including the scalp, resembling dandruff8.
Ringworm vs dandruff
Tinea capitis (also referred to as ringworm of the Scalp) can lead to flaky, scaly, and itchy patches on the scalp, resembling dandruff. However, ringworm typically has a more defined border and can cause hair loss9.
Dermatitis vs dandruff
Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin reacts to certain substances or allergens. It can result in an itchy, flaky, and red scalp. Identifying and avoiding the triggering substances is crucial for treatment10.
Dandruff vs eczema
Eczema (also known as Atopic dermatitis) can affect the scalp, causing dry, itchy, and flaky skin. Although it may resemble dandruff, eczema often presents with additional symptoms such as redness and exudative sores.
Is there dandruff pills?
Yes, sometimes dermatologists prescribe oral pills such as itraconazole or fluconazole.
Can a dermatologist help with dandruff?
Yes, absolutely, this is one of the areas of specialty of all dermatologists.
If you have tried using over-the-counter treatments and shampoos to get rid of dandruff but you have not achieved any positive results, a consultation with an online dermatologist may be your best option. There are some other skin conditions that resemble the symptoms of dandruff, so if over-the-counter products do not work for you, consulting a dermatologist is best. Remember to follow their precise instructions and treatment to get rid of dandruff successfully.
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